Post #43 – 10 Myths of the Australian Housing Market

Every time I try to suggest to my family and friends that the Australian housing market is in a bubble – the likes of which no developed Western nation has ever seen before – I’m dismissed as a bit of a ‘crackpot’. Amongst the sneers and chuckles, I’m told that the Australian housing market is ‘different’. Yes, different. What makes it ‘different’ is something nobody can really tell me – but here are a few of the excuses I’ve heard:

ARGUMENT 1: WE’VE GOT BIG HOUSESLargest in the world by some counts. According to our former Treasurer Joe Hockey, this means that Australia has a fundamentally different ‘asset’ class. Here’s exactly what he said:

A lot of Australians put a lot of new capital into their homes – renovate their homes, upgrade their homes – and we have the largest homes on average perhaps in the Western World, and the world more generally. So it’s a very different asset class in Australia than in other jurisdictions.

This means, naturally, we have to pay more for our houses – because they’re bigger than everyone else’s.

DEBUNKED: Hockey is correct in saying that a bigger house costs more than a smaller house. However, it doesn’t excuse why a median house price in Sydney is $1 million, whilst in Houston, a city of comparable size and wealth, it’s about $US146,600. Americans tend to challenge us for the title of most obnoxiously big houses in the Western world, so we’d hope to see some correlation there. But we don’t, the maths just simply doesn’t add up.



Post #42 – Evangelical Christians Are Literally Ruining My World


The other day I had the (mis)fortune of getting into a protracted conversation with an evangelical Christian friend about climate change. Walking to our cars’ from the train station after work, we innocuously stumbled into the conversation as we rattled on about the large storm that hit Sydney over the weekend just gone.

We both noted the intensity of the storm, our personal experience whilst it was happening, and the damage that was done. Then as an off-hand comment I stated that the “weather is going crazy these days, eh?” – more a rhetorical question than anything else. But also, deep down I was seeing if he would take the bait. You see, I wanted to know if he took the threat of climate change seriously. I remember this individual being a wiz in our science class back in high school, but I also knew his deeply-held religious convictions. What I wanted to test was my hunch that evangelical Christians don’t give a shit about climate change, or worse, they actively challenge the science.


Post #40 – Beefcake-Bro Culture: The New Wave of Bogan

I left the suburbia of Penrith a few years ago for the big smoke of Sydney. At the time I told people the reason I was moving from the place I was born and raised was for convenience and accessibility. What I didn’t tell them was that I secretly couldn’t stand Penrith anymore. Despite being only an hour from Sydney’s CBD, in many respects it feels like its a million miles away from the beaches, the sky-rises and the trendy inner suburbs that define Sydney’s core. It certainly wasn’t the locale of Penrith that didn’t sit easy with me – the snaking Nepean River with the majestic Blue Mountains as a backdrop, the fresh air and wide open spaces mean Penrith provides a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. Nor was it the ‘typical westies’ that (sometimes) unfairly characterise the outer western suburbs of Sydney. No part of Sydney is immune from these so-called ‘uncultured’ characters, and I find the down-to-earth larrikin nature that inflects the good people of the Western suburbs refreshingly welcome in comparison to their Eastern counterparts. However, what ultimately drove me from my hometown was the rise of what I refer to as the ‘Beefcake-Bro Culture’ – a new wave of disturbing bogan culture festering in the youth of suburbia.

The re-birth of Australia’s muscle bro culture in not unprecedented – Australia has seen a rise and demise in both the surfie culture of the 1960’s and the ‘get big’ gym phase of the 1980’s amongst its blokes. But this new era of ‘roided boganism contains a much more dangerous and volatile streak amongst the suburban youth of today. It really is a perfect storm of factors that has given rise to the latest manifestation of boganesque masochism rampant within Australian youth culture, but particularly apparent in the Western suburbs of Sydney. It’s not just cultural either, with economic, political and ethnic factors also contributing to this ‘Bro Culture’. From Ambarvale to Abbottsbury,  Bankstown to Blacktown, Castle Hill to Campbelltown, and Parramatta to Penrith, Beefcake Bro Culture reigns dominant. Here are the factors that have given birth to this new wave of blatant boganism:


Post #22 – Climate Change: We’re fucked, but why is it so?

In the same week that Sydney was hit with the equivalent of a ‘category 2 cyclone‘ and a once-in-a-generation hailstorm, something else was happening over the other side of Australia. Powerful sections of society – the scholars, the political elites, the media and the corporate sector all weighed in to the debate over the funding of ‘climate contrarian’ Bjorn Lomborg’s climate ‘think tank’ at the University of Western Australia by the Australian government. All parties involved, unsurprisingly, had different views on the highly contentious matter. Despite the furore over the think tanks’ $4m price tag (juxtaposed against the slashing of science funding across the board) and the inconsistent message from the government as to who’s idea the whole thing really was, the main focus is just how seriously the Abbott government takes the threat of climate change (the answer: not very). According to James Hansen (a previous Director of NASA) the threat of climate change is so severe that the Earth might suffer what he calls the ‘Venus Syndrome‘. He describes it as an energy imbalance so great as to heat up the earth to something like Venus – which is too hot to sustain any form of life, at you know, about 400°C. For him, the end-game of climate change is potentially apocalyptic, rather than simply fucking disastrous – that’s if mankind proceeds to burn all available fossil fuels (which we’re on track to do). So if the threat is so bad, why aren’t we really doing anything about it?

Post #16 – Three Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Voting for Mike Baird

As some of you may have been made aware, I really try and encourage participation on my blog – my posts are as much about me and my observations as they are about you and your observations. Just like my post on Islam after the attacks in Paris, I’m going to base this post off a message I recently got from a friend asking my advice about the New South Wales state election, which will be held on the 28th of March:

Yo JimJam [my uber-cool nickname]… Coz I couldn’t give two shits about politics these days, what’s your view on state elections? Non bias if possible. Apart from the angst of the lock out laws I haven’t heard too much negativity against liberal state govt.

Again, I said it was going to be difficult to sum up my response in 140 characters, and I would take it to the interwebz and my blog – so you can all see my response, and possibly comment and get involved *hint, hint*. I know a lot of my friends voted for the Liberals’ in the last federal election and (just like the rest of Australia) feel dismayed and confused as to how it all went so horribly wrong so quickly. Most people don’t want a repeat of an Abbott-style onslaught at both a federal and state level. So to start my answer to the question posed, I’m going to quote the famous playwright, Shakespeare:

‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.’

– Hamlet, (Marcellus to Horatio)

Shakespeare’s modern day version of his famous play would probably incorporate the Australian state of New South Wales, such is the stench of corruption in this state. Something truly rotten is happening with politics around here, but bizarrely it doesn’t seem to be affecting the current premier much at all, with the ABC stating that:

Bookmakers have him [Baird] easily winning the election with odds of 20 to 1, making a win for his rival, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley, highly unlikely.

The current premier Mike Baird seems to have successfully disassociated himself (in the eyes of the public) from the toxicity of his Federal counterparts and Tony Abbott, plus the foul odour still emanating from the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) inquiries. Just to illustrate how impressive this is, the Abbott government’s continual lack of popularity has partly led to the surprise routing of both Liberal denominations in the states of Queensland and Victoria in the last couple of months – elections the Liberals’ were tipped to win.


Post #13 – Aboriginals and Liberals: An Uneasy Relationship

On February 12th, a report titled Closing The Gap was released. This is an annual report that details where we’re at in regards to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’. So to quickly sum up what issues the report is trying to address, I’ll quote Oxfam:

Most Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies of any country in the world — but this is not true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous Australians can expect to live 10–17 years less than other Australians. Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. The mortality rates for Indigenous Australians is on par with some of the world’s most impoverished nations. The United Nations Report, The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (2009) indicated Australia and Nepal have the world’s worst life expectancy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

You know when you’re on par with frick’n Nepal, you’ve got some issues. (more…)

Post #11 – Malcolm Turnbull Is A Wet Pussy

I’m going to start this post with a joke:

Malcolm Turnbull walks up to the bar on the second floor of Parliament House in Canberra. The barman greets Turnbull as he approaches the bar and asks him what drink he would like. Malcolm thinks on this a moment and says he wants to be ‘a little risqué’ and requests a shot. The barman nods in appreciation and requests to know what shot the federal Communications Minister would like. ‘A wet pussy‘, Malcolm purrs.

‘A wise choice sir’, the barman opines, ‘a shot with a name that truly encapsulates your very being, sir’.

I hope you all like my attempt at wit and humour. To those that don’t yet appreciate my whimsical sense of amusement, I’m sure you all at least got a hefty dose of the giggles watching the Liberal Party seemingly fall apart on live national television this morning. What I’ve most enjoyed about the whole saga is how much the Liberal Party seemingly think there are no comparisons to be drawn between what is currently happening to them and what happened to the previous Labor government. But the comparisons are seemingly endless, with factions being the most obvious factor in the highly entertaining #libspill saga. This is no difference to the left-right divisions within the Labor Party that destroyed the careers of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – (and continues to hang around Bill Shorten like a bad smell) and the divisions within the Liberal Party; both are corrosive.


Post #5 – Sexism and a Puppet

So the Honourable PM Tony Abbott, the man who was responsible for pearlers like the one below, has something to say about sexism:

‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’

He is internationally renowned for his stellar record of saying ridiculously misogynistic one-liners that would make Johnny Bravo blush. He was also on the receiving end of probably the most scathing, if not the most famous, anti-sexist rant ever. He also stated that the greatest thing he had done as Minister for Women was to get rid of the ‘Carbon Tax’, leading to one of the funniest things to trend on social media since Justin Bieber was punched by Orlando Bloom in a nightclub. So you would probably raise an eyebrow if he started accusing others of being sexist twats. What would make it all the more bizarre would be if he accused his own party of being the ones with the sexist banter. But in typical Abbott fashion, he has stumped me, and the electorate, once again – by doing just that. Abbott came out in defence of his chief-of-staff Peta Credlin recently, asking his colleagues to ‘have a long hard look at themselves’. I feel terrible for Bronwyn Bishop and George Brandis in all of this, because with mugs like theirs you’d think they’d prefer to do as little reflection in the mirror as possible. Ohh snap!!

But on a serious note, (more…)

Post #2 – Everybody Loves Bishop

So one thing that has really surprised me about the eventual demise of the federal Liberal party is the unwavering support Julie Bishop maintains amongst the electorate. She is not just begrudgingly tolerated by the electorate like Bill Shorten is, she is loved – adored by many for her truly intimidating stare and gruff attitude to former Commies in China and Russia. Those on the Left don’t seem to be bothered hating on her too much. Why would you – when you have a smorgasbord of rotting cheeses to peg your nose at in the fashion of Palmer, Abetz, Andrews, Brandis and Pyne? With the sniff of a Cabinet reshuffle and the talk (I dare to even mention it, but I must) that our dear leader may not even see out a full term, the enemies of the government have bigger fish to fry.

On this point, I tend to agree with them. She has made very few missteps, but that is only in comparison to her Coalition colleagues. Analyse Bishop as a singular, unitary actor though, and you realise (more…)